Interview with Sahar Madanat Haddad

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Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Sahar Madanat Haddad (SM) for A’ Design Awards and Competition. You can access the full profile of Sahar Madanat Haddad by clicking here.

Interview with Sahar Madanat Haddad at Sunday 29th of May 2011
Sahar Madanat Haddad
FS: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
SM: For as far as I can remember I have had an interest in both the sciences and arts. However, not knowing of Industrial Design as a field, I always felt that i had to choose, one or the other. Luckily, during the course of exploring both fields in University, I stumbled upon Industrial Design and it turned out to be the perfect combination to satisfy both my passions.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
SM: At the same time as I am freelancing, I am working on establishing an industrial and product Design Company in Jordan; to enhance product design regionally and place Jordan on the world map of design. That is a passion of mine, and I intend to pursue this goal, as Jordan has so much hidden talent that I think the world can benefit from tremendously.

FS: What is "design" for you?
SM: Design is a delicate balance between science and art, just as humans are. The beauty of it, is the challenge presented by such a contrast; Technology and urban life are continually producing wonderful challenges for designers to create products that maintain a human connection with the user, yet cleverly use science to solve the evolving needs of society. Innovation is when such a balance is perfected, and that in itself, is artistic.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
SM: Any product that presents a good challenge, requiring problem solving and innovation, and improves the overall quality of life, I enjoy it very much. But in general, the more the design helps the needs of society, the better.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
SM: My favorite project that i have designed would have to be Heart Aid; a CPR and AED (defibrillator) home unit for the elderly. It is a medical product used in the case of a Sudden Cardiac Arrest to a loved one at home. It is designed specifically to make it possible for an elderly to provide medical attention in the first 3-5 minutes of the attack to the victim, increasing chances of survival 50 – 74 %. What makes this design unique is that it has many time saving features; such as calling paramedics automatically as soon as it’s turned on.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
SM: One of the earliest products that I can recall sketching for a company was a high-end security car remote controller.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
SM: It depends on the needs of the project. The art of selection is allowing all the materials to be an option rather than strictly confining the design to a certain material or technology. The challenge in product design is to keep the canvas open for options.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
SM: At the beginning of the project, when that canvas is totally empty.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
SM: Products are multifaceted, and designers should consider all of them equally, but if I were to pick one, it would be ergonomics and functionality. If the product doesn't do what it's supposed to do well, at the very least, then what benefit will it bring humanity?

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
SM: A mix of emotions depending on where i am in the design phase! But excitement is usually a prevalent emotion as you really never know where a certain idea may lead to, and that anticipation is definitely fun.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
SM: Satisfied and proud... Then what's next?

FS: What makes a design successful?
SM: A successful design is one that not only meets the expectations of consumers, but exceeds them, by not only answering to the consumer needs but also to the needs that they did not even realize they have in the first place.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
SM: Innovation in functionality; what does it offer that is new? How well does it perform? Is it improving the standards of living? solving a social problem? Is there an emotional side to it? How efficiently is it using technology?..etc.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
SM: Designers have a definite responsibility to their society and to the environment, that is to design with accountability; to study and research short term and long term affects of their design decisions; materials, uses and possible abuses, social and environmental effects, to the best of the knowledge that is available to them at the time.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
SM: I think design will grow tremendously over the coming years. The future is in green design, utilizing materials in a manner that saves the environment and consumes less energy. Life on this planet is a perfect example of how good design will survive the test of time, while being extremely efficient in using energy. I think humans will further pursue the course of making products that emulate life. Therefore, in the future the necessity for great design will be more apparent in all aspects of human activity, as the needs of society will evolve to become more in harmony with the environment we live in. This will be place greater challenges on all industries to meet these changing needs.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
SM: 2008 Geodesign, "Hamman", Palafuksas, Piazza Della Repubblica, Torino/Italy. I was selected by an international committee to partake in the 2008 Torino World capital Geodesign project and this exhibition was the outcome of our work.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
SM: My background, heritage and experiences play a big role in my design inspirations. Also, i find that nature is incredibly bountiful with ideas, solutions and inspirations. If you have an open mind, and have identified the right questions, the answer could be a walk in the park (literally and figuratively).

FS: Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
SM: I live in Amman, Jordan; A beautiful city with so much history and culture. The cultural heritage of my country affects my work in many ways that make it unique. It gives my work a voice true to my background and experiences here in Amman as well as my experiences abroad. If we are influenced by our environments, which we all are, then my fellow Jordanians must have given me many ideas while they are just going about their days, and my country's hilly landscape has inspired many lines in my work! There are no pros and cons in being in this country or that, there are just new perspectives; and that is always a healthy thing in the design world.

FS: How do you work with companies?
SM: Most of my work is project based or as freelance at the moment. This allows me the flexibility in time to continually pursue ideas and projects of my own, maintaining that spirit of experimentation and discovery that I love so much about design.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
SM: Generally i go through five main design phases; first, research and analysis, second, conceptualization, then concept development, followed by design development and engineering, then finally prototype building and testing. Research is an integral part of my design process, as I begin with it and continue researching throughout the design phase as needed.

FS: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
SM: Get as much experience as you can, make as many mistakes as fast as you can, in order to succeed sooner, and most importantly never lose the fun in it; everyone loves to work with passionate people!

FS: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
SM: The negative is that you tend to look at everything around you as a design project, so you analyze it, and thus it consumes your thoughts. However I also think that the one of the greatest benefits to being a designer is that you do look at everything around you as design. This constant stimulus of information makes you appreciate details and see things that most people wouldn’t even notice; opening your mind to solutions and existing problems that have possibly not yet been tapped into.

FS: What is your "golden rule" in design?
SM: In any career, you should do it out of passion. Work done passionately, will eventually succeed giving great results. Therefore i continually seek challenges and take on projects that keep feed into my passion.

FS: What skills are most important for a designer?
SM: To have the an open and inquisitive mind when looking at the world around them.

FS: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
SM: Moleskin and a good pen to jot down or sketch any idea i may have while i am on the go. A box of simple model building materials for quick mock ups. A solid PC with a big monitor. Illustrator and such for presentation work. As for design books, it really depends on what project you're working on, but i have always found it very helpful to have " The measure of Man & Woman" by Henry Dreyfuss Associates.

FS: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
SM: Macro Scheduling projects and micro scheduling the design phases, setting deadlines and planning prior to beginning work on a certain project. This gives me the structure needed to stay ahead of myself. However this came with a lot of experience and many hard learned lessons of last minute presentations!

FS: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
SM: Surprisingly; what is Industrial design?! Most people are not familiar with this discipline, especially in Jordan. This gives me a unique opportunity to educate people about our field and spark a design thinking culture in the Middle East, and so i take this opportunity seriously every time

FS: What was your most important job experience?
SM: My experience with Design Jordan (establishing the first Industrial and product Design Company in the country) taught me what it takes to build a design company from ground up, work with major shareholders and convince clients to invest in product design for the first time ever. On the other hand, as acting Design Director, I was also building and training the first product design team time in the country, establishing a company culture and design process. Furthermore, I learned to be very resourceful since there were no local precedents to learn from, we had to find suppliers and search for technologies and institutions to build prototypes.

FS: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
SM: Eventually to open my own design studio in Jordan, that would lead the path of increasing design awareness in the region and provide a platform that brings forth hidden talents.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
SM: Depending on the requirements of the task at hand and what expertise are needed, i either form a team or work solo. In certain smaller projects it can be redundant to include too many people, and in others, it's the only way. In such cases I resort to my wonderful network of designers, architects and engineer worldwide for help.

FS: How can people contact you?
SM: You can reach me through linked in;

FS: Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to interview you.

A’ Design Award and Competitions grants rights to press members and bloggers to use parts of this interview. This interview is provided as it is; DesignPRWire and A' Design Award and Competitions cannot be held responsible for the answers given by participating designers.

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